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State Lawmakers Moving Quickly To Avoid Prospect of Shutdown

April 06, 2017 07:13 AM

Minnesota lawmakers are moving quickly to pass budget bills during the legislative session. What spending priorities do you think they should focus on this year? Let your lawmakers know!

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Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican members of the State House and Senate are hoping to avoid a repeat of the government shutdown that occurred six years ago.

With Republicans again in control of both houses of the state legislature and the DFL's Dayton still in office, it has brought back memories of the state government shutdown of 2011.

The state government shut down for 20 days in July of that year when Dayton and the then-Republican controlled legislature could not reach agreement on a budget bill by the constitutional deadline of June 30.

With that in mind, Republican leaders have tried to place bigger matters earlier in the session this year. 

In theory, this would leave the House, Senate and governor plenty of time to negotiate compromises on these bills so they could be re-passed and signed before the end of the legislative session

However, several state commissioners have expressed serious concerns about what is and is not in certain budget bills drafted by House and Senate Republicans this session.

And Wednesday, Dayton's top budget official said he'll recommend the governor veto most of the legislature's budget bills in their current form.

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans said the bills push significant costs into the future, cut vital services and oversell supposed savings.

Social service bills have some of the largest discrepancies. For example, Frans cited $321 million in projected health care savings in the House's health and human services bill.

Frans said that's done by eliminating inflation from the state's program to provide health coverage to poor Minnesotans. He termed that not realistic.

"Legislative leaders put together a budget full of alternative math that helps support their campaign talking points, but they do not add up," Frans said at a State Capitol briefing on the GOP budget bills.

Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said it's too early to talk vetoes until the Legislature finishes bills. He said Republicans still plan to wrap up session on time.

However, he says Dayton has to be willing to compromise on his tax and spending plans.

"He passed out a piece of paper that said the legislature's 'fuzzy math' fails the budget test," Daudt said in response to the Frans news conference.

"I would say this should read the governor's fuzzy math fails Minnesotans."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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